Monday, August 30, 2010

Generals In the News

Hamilton Generals ITL team teeters on brink of elimination
By Dom Nicastro / Correspondent

Hamilton’s Intertown Twilight Baseball team dropped from first to fourth place over the course of the second half of the season.

It put them in the predicament of facing the defending champions, Manchester/Essex, in the first round of this year’s playoffs. And even worse, the Generals lost the opening game, falling to the Mariners, 8-4, in Essex.

But the local team wasn’t going down all that easy.

The team that missed the playoffs came storming back by taking Game 2 of the best-of-three semifinal with a convincing 14-6 win over Manchester/Essex Monday night at Patton Park.

Game 3 was Wednesday night in Essex [after press deadline]. The eventual winner of the series faces the winner of No. 3 Rockport-No.2 Rowley.

“The team that was able to balance pitching, offense, and defense won the game,” Hamilton player/manager Tom Jones said Monday night. “We were able to put it all together where they were able to in Game 1. Game 3 should be a great battle. The Mariners are a very deep team and deserved the No. 1 seed with their great constant play all year.”

Monday night, Jeff Jensen pitched a complete game to earn the win for the Generals, who smashed six home runs.

Jim Maloney had the first, a three-run blast in the opening inning. Tim O’Leary and Justin Tilley then struck back-to-back homers in the next inning, and in the same inning, Bryan Vitale and Maloney had two-run bombs to give Hamilton a 9-2 edge after two.

The next jack came from Jered Stewart, whose three-run bomb in the sixth gave the Generals a 14-4 lead, and the game was eventually called because of darkness in the sixth.

Maloney had five RBI, and Stewart added four. Mark Provost and O’Leary also added multi-hit games.

In Game 1 in Essex Sunday, Steve Stout got the complete game victory over Hamilton, scattering 10 hits and walking just one in an 8-4 Mariners win. Judd Funchion got the start for the Generals, pitched well, but was charged with the loss. The Generals kept it close for most of the day but had a few errors that made the difference in the game.

The Generals got on the board first with an RBI double from Provost in the top of the third.

The Mariners took the lead in the middle innings, and Mark Ruggiero got a bases-loaded double that scored three runs to cut the Mariners lead to 5-4.

Provost, O’Leary and Mark Potter each had two hits apiece for the Generals. Ruggiero had three RBI.

Jones knows it won't be easy to pull off two straight against Manchester Essex.

“They have the league’s past two Cy Young winners, and won the last two ITL championships,” Jones said. “We will have our work cut out for us come Wednesday night, but I like our chances. We are playing great ball and can hopefully carry it over through Wednesday night.”

Hamilton Generals called out of Intertown Twilight League playoffs
By Dom Nicastro / Correspondent
Posted Aug 13, 2010 @ 02:25 PM

Hamilton’s Intertown Twilight League baseball season came to an end Wednesday night in Essex as the Generals fell to Manchester-Essex in the series finale of a best-of-three semifinal, 4-1, at Memorial Park.

Manchester, the two-time defending champion, hosts Rockport in the best-of-five ITL finals in Game 1, Saturday in Essex at 4 p.m. Rockport swept Rowley in the other semifinal.

Ryan Marques pitched the Mariners to victory over the Generals Wednesday night, holding a lineup that scored 14 runs and smacked seven home runs in a Game 2 Hamilton victory to three hits. He had four strikeouts in a complete-game victory.

The Generals ace, Mike Drinkwater, went 5.2 innings and allowed two earned runs on eight hits while striking out five.

Charlie Choate got Manchester-Essex started by driving in Rory Gentile (walk) with a sacrifice flyout in the first inning.

The Generals tied the game in the top of the third inning with a solo home run to right field off the bat of Jim Maloney.

Bryan Lafata’s sacrifice fly in the fifth gave Manchester-Essex the lead for good, and Nate Bertolino singled to drive in Gentile and give the Mariners a 3-1 edge.

Ian Buckley lined a sharp single to right field to drive in the fourth and final run for the Mariners in the sixth.

Tim O’Leary and Mark Provost hit safely for Hamilton.

The schedule for the ITL finals is as such:

Saturday, Aug. 14: Rockport at Manchester-Essex, 4 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 15: Manchester-Essex at Rockport, 4 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 18: Rockport at Manchester-Essex, 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 21: Manchester-Essex at Rockport (if necessary), 4 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 22: Rockport at Manchester-Essex (if necessary), 4 p.m.

Hamilton Generals forced to wait till next year

By Dom Nicastro / Correspondent
Posted Aug 18, 2010 @ 03:30 PM

Hamilton may have been bounced from the first round of the Intertown Twilight League baseball playoffs. But if there’s any reason to be hopeful for next summer, it’s the performance of the Generals this season.

After all, one year ago, they didn’t even make the four-team playoffs in the seven-team league.

This season, they won nine of 10 at one point, vaulted to the top of the league, and worked their way into the playoffs at the No. 4 spot, drawing two-time defending champion Manchester-Essex.

The Generals took them to the brink, losing Game 3 of the best-of-three series.

“It was a tough end to a great season,” Hamilton player/coach Tom Jones said. “It was great to get back into the playoffs, and we had a legitimate shot at first place heading into the last week of the season. We ended up fourth, but that just goes to show how close and competitive the league has been. We faced Manchester-Essex in the finals two seasons ago and were swept. This year we forced a deciding Game 3 in the first round.”

The improvements this summer should get the Generals “over the hump” next summer, Jones said.

And the good news is it looks like Hamilton will be bringing back most, if not all, of its players.

Mark Ruggiero, the team’s first baseman, felt the team had a lot of chemistry and just some good camaraderie on and off the field.

“It’s too early to tell right now, but it appears that we won’t be losing anyone next season,” Jones said. “The younger guys will have another year under their belts, and we might make another key pickup or two that will help us improve. That has been the best thing about having a successful team and fun atmosphere — guys want to play. We had no problems and never had to worry about having enough guys. We had enough for two teams plus a few extra this year. It makes it a great team, but makes my job harder trying to get everyone playing time and still focusing on winning. A good problem to have, however.”

Tim O’Leary had no problems at the plate this year. He hit .407 to lead the team and added three homers. Mark Provost was behind him at .384 and led the team in doubles (10) while finishing with four homers.

Jim Maloney was the team’s best power hitter, finishing with seven homers and 35 RBI to go along with a .380 average. He also had 16 stolen bases and was never caught.

Jered Stewart (.365), Ruggiero (.358) and Reggie Maidment (.321) also hit above .300.

Jeff Jensen (6-1) and Connor Sullivan (4-1) led the pitching staff with wins, and Mike Drinkwater contributed 47 strikeouts in 44.1 innings. He also had a pair of wins.

“You know it’s a great season when the guys don’t want it to end,” Jones said. “It’s a tough void to fill when everyone comes together and is enjoying it, then it’s over. That is a good sign heading into next season, though. We can’t wait to get started so this offseason should be productive for us. Time will tell but spring can’t come fast enough for us.”